Continue to use 111 online during further industrial action

The NHS in the North West is bracing itself for one of the most difficult strikes in its history beginning tomorrow morning, health leaders nationally and across the region have warned.

Consultant doctors and hospital-based dentists will be taking strike action from 7am on Thursday (July 20) until 7am on Saturday (July 22).

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said that consultants will only provide staffing levels to cover emergency care, meaning the NHS will, in effect, experience two ‘Christmas Day service’ days in a row.

In contrast to strike action among other staff groups, no other clinicians can provide cover for consultants, so any planned care delivered by junior doctors or other healthcare professionals that requires even remote consultant supervision will need to be rescheduled. This means a significant amount of planned care involving junior doctors will be affected.

Junior doctors took strike action for five days which concluded yesterday morning, but the consultants’ action means services have little time to recover.

In addition, the Society of Radiographers has announced its members will strike from 7am on 25 July to 7am on 27 July.

NHS national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said: “This could undoubtedly be the most severe impact we have ever seen in the NHS as a result of industrial action, with routine care virtually at a standstill for 48 hours.

“Consultants will not only stop seeing patients themselves, but they won’t be around to provide supervision over the work of junior doctors, which impacts thousands of appointments for patients.”

Regional Medical Director Dr Michael Gregory added that emergency services were likely to be stretched as a result of the consultant’s action.

He said: “During the period of the industrial action, it is more important than ever that the public know to make NHS 111 online ( their first port of call for non-emergency health needs,” he said.

“During strike action we will prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment, critical care, neonatal care, and trauma. The advice for the public who need care has not changed – people should use 999 in life-threatening emergencies and NHS 111 online for other health concerns. GP services and pharmacies are also available for patients and can be accessed in the normal way.

“If you haven’t been contacted or informed that your planned appointment has been postponed, please attend as normal.”

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